Industry-facing courses give regional businesses a boost while Notre Dame students learn skills, gain real-world experience

Author: iNDustry Labs News

Smoker Craft Applied Learning Spring 2022
Michael Boyle, a process engineer for Smoker Craft, a leading boat manufacturer in Elkhart County, talks to undergraduate engineering student Alexandra Gomez ’22 on a tour of the Smoker Craft factory in New Paris, Ind. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

The academic year at Notre Dame has come to a close, but benefits provided to local industry through student project-based courses will continue forward. During the 2021-2022 academic year, nearly 70 students in 12 experiential learning courses offered through Notre Dame engineering, business and design programs successfully completed projects with eight industry partners in the South Bend-Elkhart region.

For many local companies, access to talent and staff bandwidth can make examining important, but not immediately pressing, challenges and opportunities hard to address. Experiential learning courses are for-credit courses that allow students to engage in hands-on, “real-world” projects presented to them by industry partners. Courses are activated through a wide array of colleges, schools, and initiatives at Notre Dame such as the Center for Civic Innovation, and are supported by faculty who are committed to student development and project success, and are sponsored by project champions from the partner company.

Notre Dame’s iNDustry Labs supports the identification, stewardship and success of many of these industry-facing projects, which represent a key dimension of the team’s strategic partnerships with local companies and activate a broad portfolio of University resources and programs. 

“Our experience working with Notre Dame students on innovation initiatives has been tremendous,” said Matt Harrison, director of design & business intelligence at CHaSE Manufacturing and one of this year’s project champions. “The work and recommendations offered have the potential to impact our overall productivity and customer satisfaction. We also appreciate the opportunity to share our operations and work with these exceptional students as they consider their post-graduate plans.”


“We could not be more pleased with these dynamic collaborations between Notre Dame students and our industry partners this year,” said Tom Fuja, faculty director of iNDustry Labs. “This has truly been a win-win for students and businesses, and we look forward to continuing to work with regional partners dedicated to innovation and talent development.”

Conn-Selmer Applied Learning
Engineering students receive a tour of Conn-Selmer during their fall 2021 semester course investigating enhancements to the renowned musical instrument manufacturer's brass instruments. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Notre Dame faculty and industry project champions guided students from the College of Engineering, College of Arts & Letters and the Mendoza College of Business as they examined topics related to technology implementation, automation, systems optimization, prototyping and customer experience research.

Participating companies for the 2021-2022 academic year included:

  • CHaSE Manufacturing (Elkhart County)
  • Conn-Selmer (Elkhart County)
  • Damping Technologies, Inc. (St. Joseph County)
  • Indratech (Elkhart County)
  • Lippert (Elkhart County)
  • Plus5 Global (Wabash County)
  • Smoker Craft (Elkhart County)
  • THOR (Elkhart County)
  • iNDustry Labs/South Bend Elkhart Regional Partnership

iNDustry Labs aims to help local companies engage with talent and world-class resources at Notre Dame in support of a resilient, skilled and prosperous region. To learn more about industry-facing experiential learning courses, contact iNDustry Labs.

About iNDustry Labs

The University of Notre Dame’s iNDustry Labs forges innovative partnerships between the South Bend - Elkhart Region’s industries and the University to support a more prosperous region. An anchor of the South Bend-Elkhart region’s Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network, it was established through a $42.4 million grant awarded to Notre Dame in 2019 from Lilly Endowment, Inc.